Paul Greenberg

Dear Irate,

Blame me.

I'm the editor here at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette who put that article that so offended you -- and a number of other valued readers -- on the cover of our Sunday opinion September 11th.

It was wholly a pleasure to hear from you all because it gives me an opportunity to explain why I would do such a thing.

You remember that article -- indeed, you won't soon forget it. It was headed, "Let's Cancel 9/11/ America, tear down that Freedom Tower." It suggested the country stop observing the anniversary of the most devastating surprise attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor.

I don't agree with the writer, either. Which is precisely why I chose to run it in so prominent a place. Because it offered a provocative counterpoint to the view we took on our editorial page that same day -- a full-page color reproduction of the attack on the Twin Towers emblazoned with the words: "Remember/September 11th."

The article that got you so stirred up took a diametrically opposite view from my own column on that same page. ("What have we learned from this?")

Far from canceling September 11th, I've long thought -- and suggested -- that we ought to move Flag Day, now almost forgotten in June, to September 11th.

Remember how all the flags came out as the news of the attacks spread? Within hours, Old Glory was flying atop the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. It would be raised over suburban houses and in inner cities, on cars and trucks and trailers, at the Pentagon ... and over that black gash in an empty field near Shanksville, Pa. That was the only trace left when United Flight 93 exploded there with its 7,000 gallons of jet fuel that fateful morning.

As the saga of United 93 reminds us, Americans were fighting back even before the terrorists could complete their plans. ("Let's Roll!") Forget those heroes? Never.

The whole country seemed united that day in one roar of defiance, and our armed forces would soon respond. As they respond to this day.

Cancel September 11th? Like hell we will.

But also part of being American is to let all voices be heard, even and especially those that provoke us. So on September 11th of this year, the 10th anniversary of another day that will live in infamy, our opinion section offered a wide array of opinions to our wide array of readers.

Naturally, people will disagree with any number of opinions expressed in the paper. But I'd rather folks disagree with us, even be upset with us, than not get the widest spectrum of opinions into the paper.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.